It's a daily challenge, working to be effective in our roles and feeling like we accomplished what we needed to in the 8-10 (sometimes more) hours in the business day. Here are six lessons that I have, reluctantly, had to accept in my continuing journey on becoming an effective businessperson.
We all have our lists, sometimes it's one in our heads and sometimes its a list we write, in any case, it's our list. It's a list of the priorities we have and often, others will have priorities that require your attention too. The higher up you get in management, the more others lists will start to include your name on them.
This does not mean that you need to do everything that another person asks you to do, but accept that other things will draw your attention throughout the day, so when your list doesn't get done, that's ok. Everything is a balance, I recommend prioritising 2-3 musts for your day and accept the rest are bonuses.
Everyone has limitations, even Superman and Wonderwoman have their weaknesses. So accept that there will be times when you need to ask for help and when you don't know the answer. Great businesses are built on people, not one person. I always go with honesty as the best policy, if you don't know the answer, be honest about it. "I don't know, but I can find out for you." This has been my go to line as a trainer, manager and businesswoman. 99% of the time, I get a positive response. Just as you are human, your boss/colleague/direct is too. Surround yourself with people who know more than you and you can only get better.
Even Steve Jobs and Richard Branson answer to a board, and you only have to read a few of their articles to know that even they have dealt with disappointment in their careers. Projects get shelved, initiatives get delayed, priorities change. What you want may not be what your company wants or needs. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't participate in discussions, put forward ideas, and contribute, but when the decision comes down from above, the sign of a good employee is knowing how to accept disappointment and know when to get on board and move on.
Now, I don't mean you should ever accept unethical behaviour, that is a separate discussion, however, in general, being a supportive of your management will get you a lot further in life than being Mr, Mrs or Ms I told you so. You can spend your entire life on what should have been, but that often comes at the expense of missing what you can enjoy and be a part of right now.
Building on the above, when things don't go your way you can do two things, you can focus on it or you can be ok with it. In the same tome, and remembering that everyone is human, your bosses, directs and colleagues will have bad days, and will make mistakes. Holding on to disappointments, issues and incidents can put your relationships at risk. You will make mistakes in your life and make decisions that will disappoint others, just as you hope others won't hold it against you, don't hold it against them.
There are three kinds of power in business, relationship power, role power and expertise power. It's a fact of life that people are generally more inclined to do something for you if they like you, the stronger your relationships are, the less you have to rely on using role power (e.g. I'm your boss and I'm telling you to) or expertise power (e.g. I know the rules/legislation better and I'm telling you to).
This was definitely one the hardest lessons and it's one a still struggle with. As a mother, wife and career woman, I have (like most people) a range of competing priorities I have to balance on a daily basis. It's unlikely you will win mother/father of the year and businesswoman/man of the year at the same time. That may sound harsh, but you have to make decisions and there often isn't time to get to every footy game, assembly while also attending board meeting and hitting every deadline. I put my hat up to every parent who tries.
I've missed very few assemblies, I've forgotten a few anniversaries, and had to pass up career opportunities because I knew they would come at the expense of much needed time with my kids and husband. Accept that you set your priorities, and you will generally have one priority that takes up the majority of your time. Work to find a career, role and company that's got the right balance for you, and accept that it will take time. When you do miss an assembly, forget an anniversary or can't make a deadline, own up to it, apologise and forgive yourself. If you are genuine and don't make a habit of it, your kids, partner and yes, even boss, will forgive you.
Change is inevitable, being a naturally people oriented and outgoing person, I embrace change. Not everyone feels the same, whether it's in business or life change can be confronting for many. Even for those of us who do usually embrace change, life has a way of throwing things at us that we aren't ready for and it can be overwhelming. Just when you seem to have everything as you like it, things will change, a staff member will go and you will have to retrain, funding arrangements will end and you'll have to diversify, legislation will change and you'll have to change with it.
While challenging, change is ultimately what helps us grow personally and professionally. Organisations who support staff in change and encourage it are ultimately more successful, so be an agent, or at least advocate, of change in your organisation.
Ultimately, life is a result of the choices we make, if we want a different life, we have to start making different choices.